Don Satz wrote:
>Seriously, I love Beethoven's late works where we find him at his most
>creative and profound. Also, his early and middle period music isn't
>shabby either. Did he write any "clunkers"? Perhaps, but I don't see
>any point in dwelling on a minute percentage of his compositions. >
If I could write just one piece like Beethoven did - even the least
little snippet - I would feel wonderful. So I agree, who cares about
"clunkers" when there is so much else to marvel about. Of Beethoven's
late style, the late Edward Said wrote a moving essay in the London
Review of Books. (August 2004) He himself was in his "last phase" and
thought about Beethoven's situation. It's such a lyrically written,
profound essay I'll quote a bit:
"The accepted notion is that age confers a spirit of reconciliation
and serenity on late works, often expressed in terms of a
miraculous transfiguration of reality......But what if artistic
lateness not as harmony and resolution, but as intransigence,
difficulty and contradiction? What if age and ill health don't
produce serenity at all? "
"When he was a young composer, Beethoven's work had been vigorous
and organically whole, whereas it has now become more wayward
and eccentric; as an older man facing death, Beethoven realises
that his work proclaims that 'no synthesis is conceivable'.
Beethoven's late works, therefore, communicate a tragic sense
in spite of their irascibility. There is an insistence in late
style not on mere ageing, but on an increasing sense of apartness
and exile and anachronism".
"This is the prerogative of late style: it has the power exactly
to render disenchantment and pleasure without resolving the
contradiction between them. What holds them in tension, as equal
forces straining in opposite directions, is the artist's mature
subjectivity, stripped of hubris and pomposity, unashamed either
of its fallibility or of the modest assurance it has gained as
a result of age and exile."
Said, of course, was a musician as well as a philospoher.
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